The Philosopher With an Ironic Smile: Erasmus

The statue of Erasmus is a gift from “Lions Club Leuven Erasmus” to the city of Leuven on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of this association. 

Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) was one of the most influential thinkers of his time. He was always looking for the source of knowledge and the core of things. As a humanist, he opened up ancient literature and propagated classical Latin.

Erasmus came to Leuven in 1506 and spent six years of his life in here, where he founded the Collegium Trilingue on the Vismarkt, in the Mechelsestraat.

Erasmus aimed to teach students Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. He was famous for writing 'Stultitiae Laus' (translated as 'In Praise of Folly'), wherein he satirically attacks traditions of European society, such as superstitions, and the Western Church.

The bronze statue represents Erasmus on a walk, wearing his typical warm beret on his head, a lined cloak and his shirt collar turned up. Erasmus has put his right hand in his coat pocket, with the other he keeps the coat closed. It was always too cold for Erasmus with his weak constitution. But his signature slightly mocking smile plays around his mouth.  
It is no coincidence that it is there, because the Collegium Trilingue, founded by him, is nearby.

The statue is located in the Mechelsestraat near the former 'Zeven Hoeken' and  its around is popular as a bicycle rack.



“The chief element of happiness is this: to want to be what you are.”
― Erasmus, (Praise of Folly)


(Source:Leuven Gebeiteld_metkaft - Leuven statues.pdf, 2013)

Photo by Aslı Tezcan

Erasmus statue in Leuven